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04/25/2003 Entry: "Shredding Gender Stereotypes."

Last night on my way home I passed a heterosexual couple twisting a map around in their hands (well, his hands), clearly trying to figure out where the hell they were going. I asked them if they needed some help finding something, and they spoke at once: She said "Yes!", he said "No." I confirmed for them that they were headed in the right direction for Hayes Valley and we went on our way.

The difference in their reaction reminded me of this gender test that Jeff linked to yesterday. I'm a little skeptical of the test—why do women add different numbers than men?—but I got a pretty middle of the road 87: a low score, a typical male. I felt a little offended, somehow. Not because I do or don't feel that I behave "culturally male," but because whatever the topic, I generally would prefer to consider myself atypical.

The continuing saga of male control and domination,
Psychosexual and female manipulation in our society.
The Typical Male thinks with his dick.
-Grace Jones, "Typical Male"

If I took the test again, I would probably end up with an even lower score; I found myself later yesterday evening with my failing paper shredder in parts, strewn across my bedroom floor. I've been trying to get inside the thing for years now, so when the cover finally came off, I thought I was going to cream my boxers. Turned out I was *cough* using the wrong kind of screwdriver all this time. Really, I'm more mechanically-minded than you might think.

There's an oft-repeated family story about my father's failed attempt to fix a toaster one afternoon—I'm not sure what happened in that metal case, but in very short order, we were at the store buying a new one. While it's fun to tease my dad about this, admittedly the toaster was failing already, and may have been beyond the skills of a non-professional already. If nothing else, I learned not to try to fix something that you're not willing to replace. And to conceal the evidence if you fail. I did manage to get the shredder operational again (except for one distressingly damaged plastic tooth which had to be removed violently, inspiring some particularly sadistic dental fantasies as I twisted and pulled.)

In some ways, yes, I am carrying on that American-culturally-male expectation of mechanical curiousity. This is supposed to be symbolic of a larger difference between being male and being female? And as a gay man, this bucks the cultural expectation that I am likely to be "feminine" or "nelly." Frankly I resent either expectation. It's this binary, either/or view of gender and, by extension, sexuality, that does society a disservice by setting the stage for the misguided and self-righteous. Viewed on this "Straight-Acting" scale, I will always a gender traitor, a loser in the gender "war", regardless of how I behave, of whether I grow up like my father or my mother—or like neither one at all.

Please excuse me while I run some Freud through my shredder.

I've got no grand insights to provide, except to remind myself to just keep Living My Life ("As hard as I can / as long as I can / as much as I can / as black as I am.") But me, a Typical Male? Hmph, I (doth) protest. Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be on the toilet reading the newspaper (a lá Al Bundy) for the next few hours.

Replies: 2 comments

The thing that strikes me is "why do we revolt so reflexively against being typical?" It's always struck me as a little odd that the most typical trait of all is to crave not being just like everyone else...what does that say about how we feel about our fellow humans?

Posted by Huntington @ 04/26/2003 06:51 PM PST

I think the test weighs spatial/analytical thinking as really male... personally I don't think the results are all that valid.

Posted by biologic show @ 04/28/2003 02:19 PM PST

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